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Australia’s first specialist skin cancer clinic to offer assessment and surgical treatment in one visit has opened at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH), cutting surgery wait times by more than half.
PAH Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon Dr Michael Wagels said during the 18-month Skin Lesion Assessment Management (SLAM) pilot, the time for patients to access surgical treatment to remove skin cancers could be reduced from six months to less than 40 days.
“Under the SLAM model, patients with confirmed non-melanoma skin cancers of the head and neck, who are able to undergo a day procedure, are seen and treated in the same day,” he said.
“This approach drastically reduces waiting times to be seen and treated, which under clinical recommendations could take up to six months.”
Dr Wagels said the reduced number of hospital visits and shorter wait time would have a significant positive impact on patients.
“The shorter wait time removes uncertainty and anxiety for patients. Also, patients would have less time away from work or home and less risk of their problem deteriorating while waiting,” he said.
Springwood resident, 67-year-old Hilda Petersen was one of the first Queenslanders to benefit from the clinic.
“I’ve already had a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC) cut out by my GP, but for this one he said I would need to see a plastic surgeon and referred me to the PAH,” she said.
“With cancer, there’s that intense fear that it could become worse while you wait. It’s such a relief to have the option to have it removed in one hospital appointment.”
Metro South Health received $485,000 from the Futures Project Opportunity, established under the New Models of Care (NMC) initiative of the Specialist Outpatient Strategy, to fund the pilot.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles said the project was one of 11 projects that received funding to implement novel and innovative solutions that address challenges in delivering specialist outpatient services.
“The one-off payments provide Hospital and Health Services with the confidence to pursue innovative ideas,” Mr Miles said.
“We can then ‘scale up’ their model to other health services, thereby building on their successes and spreading the benefits to other patients and treating teams across the state.”
Up to ten patients could be seen in each clinic, which would run once a fortnight for the first year.